independent

Friday 15 December 2017

County in grip of knotweed

A notice warns of knotweed spraying in Wexford town in 2013. The problem is still a hot topic at meetings of the local authority.
A notice warns of knotweed spraying in Wexford town in 2013. The problem is still a hot topic at meetings of the local authority.

Japanese KNOTWEED has the potential to cause untold problems for County Wexford over the coming years 'as there are endless bad things that can happen with it', the meeting heard.

Cllr Paddy Kavanagh said the weed is listed as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world. 'It's able to get into the foundations of buildings and destroy buildings. If you have it on your property you won't get planning permission or money from a lending institution. It has fierce knock on implications for people. People say "I think I have that" but noone is really sure.'

Cllr Kavanagh said the problem is only going to get worse.

'People in Enniscorthy were spraying by the river. We need to identify where the problems are and put a plan of action in place. It will be quite expensive to treat every year as it's a malicious weed. There are endless bad things that can happen with it.'

Cllr Pip Breen said the council roads' staff are doing a very good job of containing the problem.

He said it requires several sprays to 'get the better of it'.

'Round Up is one of the main tools to kill this invasive, obnoxious, toxic weed which has the capability to destroy the entire county. If a little bit hits off a truck it can pick up it and drop it off a few miles down the road. We need to alert the public as to how serious this is. It is very difficult to kill.'

Cllr Oisin O'Connell said people don't know what to do with it. 'You are not allowed to let it remain there but you are told you are not allowed to cut it or spray it unless you have a licence and you're not allowed to take it away unless you have a licence to do so. You can't take it to a landfill unless it's deep enough to take it. The average person is being given somewhat contradictory advice. I know of one church group who are storing it in plastic bags.'

Director of Services Tony Larkin said the knotweed is very widespread and several sites are being treated.

Cllr Willie Kavanagh said the weed should be sprayed earlier in the year.

Cllr Keith Doyle said as the majority of the weed grows near rivers and then comes onto roads, Waterways Ireland should be active in treating it. 'Ann Phelan had no answer about it,' he said.

'Unfortunately we still don't know enough about Japanese knotweed. It grows on train lines and on the banks of rivers and along public roads and in many private gardens and farms,' he said.

Cllr Fionntáin Ó Suilleabháin said a site in north Wexford was identified for social housing but plans for it had to be scrapped as the knotweed was found there.

Cllr Robbie Ireton said there is a specialist in knotweed living in Ballygarrett, while Cllr Ger Carthy said it takes three years to kill the weed.

'You have to inject every branch so it's a fairly serious operation,' he said.

A request was made for a workshop to be given to councillors to enlighten them about knotweed.

Cllr Kavanagh said: 'We need someone to come in to enlighten members so we can at least have some information to give to people about how to deal with it. It can break off and go in the water and then the leaf flowers. It's absolutely frightening. This has increased in the last two years. I am afraid how bad it will be in a few years time.'

Director of Services for Roads Eamonn Hore said treatment is most effective in the autumn and winter. 'It does take a number of years to get rid of it,' Mr Hore said.

He said an information session similar to what council roads staff got can be facilitated for councillors. Waterways Ireland, the IFA, Wexford county Council and the Wildlife Service are involved in fighting the menace, he added.

'I would expect the department to put in place a budget.'

'We get all the invasive species in Enniscorthy,' Cllr Kavanagh said.

Wexford People

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